Exorcist: The Beginning DVD Review
PicturePicture quality is very poor indeed, especially for such a high profile release. Huge amounts of noise permeate the picture destroying all but the most obvious of details. There is a scene where Sarah (Izabella Scorupco) is dealing a tarot deck of cards. In it you see her face really close up and it is quite obvious that the picture just isn't up to the task of such subtle changes in skin tone. Noise levels make artifacting even worse as blocks of pinkish red flicker in and out of existence. That's not all, some of the effects are dire, and don't present a believable palette. The dropdown into Cairo is one such scene as is the hyena attack. There just isn't an excuse these days for a big budget movie to have bad effects.
SoundWhilst there is plenty of opportunity for some startling aural effects, Beginning has a strangely front bias sound field. Take the opening setup sequence: there are crows, flies, wind all around, yet it is the front three that play most of these effects. There isn't any dialogue to smother, so there isn't any reason for the full spread of 5.1 channels to be used. Again, when Merrin and Father Francis (James D'Arcy) first investigate the strange church, crows fly out from behind a statue. The fronts sound fine, but only a lick of sound creeps to the rear channels. Dialogue is not too clear which is especially highlighted when the oft hard to understand Skarsgård speaks. I wish there was some brightness to the dialogue to bring it further to the fore. Bass, however, is done well without becoming overblown or flabby. Bass is present in all the right places, accentuating all the right moments. Take the hyena fight which is chock full of superb tight, punchy bass (co-incidentally this scene also has some good rear speaker work, too).
That is, unless you have found the tucked away DTS track which I didn't even know DTS was on the disc until I checked what language options there were - certainly while there is a Dolby Digital logo on the back of the box, there is no DTS logo. Warner's continual nonchalance to the DTS standard is puzzling as, while DTS may not provide a guaranteed improvement in sound quality as some believe, it's presence is at least an extra. But on this disc the DTS track is a total revelation. Sound is brighter, more focused, rear channels are really used and bass is even more controlled. I have rarely heard such a demonstrable example of how a movies soundtrack can made, or ruined, on the strength of the sound recorder's mix. Put it this way, if I hadn't found that DTS track, the score would have been a 5 out of 10.
ExtrasBeginning's commentary is very dull indeed. I have said this before, but with only one commentator things get staid very quickly indeed. In fact, I couldn't listen to this commentary in one sitting, as I kept dozing off! The only other extra, unless you call 5.1 menus one, is a behind the scenes featured. Again, very plain and not at all engaging.
VerdictIn an effort to out-do the original exorcist, it would appear that Warner Brothers have successfully designed a six sided snooker ball. Avoid at all costs.